DENVER — Friday was Colorado Missing Persons Day — which was started by the mother of Kelsie Schelling, who was last seen in 2013 — and the day honors the more than 1,000 people currently missing in the state.
Schelling was last seen on Feb. 4, 2013. She drove from Denver to Pueblo to see her ex-boyfriend, Donthe Lucas. Schelling was pregnant at the time. Lucas was found guilty of her murder in 2021, but Schelling's body has never been found.
“That's always been my main goal and priority is to be able to bring her home and we didn't get that outcome out of the trial," said Laura Saxton, Schelling's mother. “I'm basically, emotionally, still where I was."
Saxton started Missing Persons Day in Colorado in 2016, falling on Feb. 4 each year. This year, more than 1,000 names of people who are missing in Colorado were read on the Colorado State Capitol steps.
"Laura's not alone. There are thousands of other families that are here in spirit, if not here physically today," said Susan Medina of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “Opportunities that Colorado Missing Persons Day provides us is giving that voice and letting them know they are not alone. And that we have resources available to help them every single step of the way.”
During Lucas' trial in Pueblo last year, several of Schelling's friends took the witness stand.
“Testifying in that trial was really traumatizing... I had to relive a lot of things that I felt like were not, you know, thought about, or I think my body just kind of put in the back of my mind to protect itself," said friend Allie Jacoby. “When I testified about Kelsie, it was almost like, I just heard her voice, her laugh.”
Schelling's friends uniquely understand the importance of Missing Persons Day.
"They get the chance to hear their loved ones' names, you know, spoken out loud and really be remembered," said Aly Cox. “I miss my friend every day... Her memory is still alive.”
For those who love these missing individuals, there will always be words they wish could be heard.
“Just how much I love her and miss her. And that I'll always do everything I can to make sure she's not forgotten," Saxton said about her daughter.
The CBI estimated there are a dozen missing Indigenous people in the state. Medina said it is a figure the bureau wants to revisit, to ensure it is accurate. She said there are a number of challenges when it comes to Indigenous cases.
"When a missing person report is taken, if it's not marked correctly, that can hamper our efforts in some ways to have them categorized correctly. So, we need to do all we can do to help our law enforcement partners in training there, again, continuing to listen and really ramp up our efforts to address this important culture," said Medina. “With our missing Indigenous community, we've taken some important first steps in that we're having dialogue. And we're working to address our processes and see if other states have implemented policies that have helped them capture this data."
Family and loved ones can share a tribute to their loved one on the Colorado Missing Person Day Memoriam page.
Anybody in need of additional support can contact a CBI Victim Advocate at 303-239-4649.